Sunday, November 25, 2018

Pieces

Your voice
Your touch
Your eyes
That look
The challenge
The joy
My rudder
My future
I look for you everywhere
      in everyone
There is no you in them
You set the standard
       became the standard
I gave you pieces of me
        I can’t get back
Pieces that left holes
         no one else can fill
Pieces - rearranged - into a
          different kind of whole

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Impossible Cravings

Why is that we want things that we intellectually know are bad for us? Too much food - or the wrong food.  Too much alcohol.  The wrong boyfriend or girlfriend. When we know it's going to hurt us, when we have already been hurt, when we know the outcome is never going to change, why do we still have these impossible cravings?

My hands shake, my heart races, my stomach knots up...and I want him so badly that I can't focus on what's in front of me.  Just look at the menu, just order your dinner...don't look at the picture that just popped up, don't re-read the last text for the millionth time, don't order another glass of wine in an effort to ease this...just order dinner and get out of here.

Why does this still happen? How long do we have these complicated, impossible cravings for things that hurt us?

Jodi Picoult: "What we all want, really, is to be loved. That craving drives our worst behavior".

Why is that? Why does a craving to be loved, desired, appreciated drive us to act like our worse selves?  Perhaps because rejection is one of the worst feelings in the world...even when the person rejecting us is nowhere near worthy of our affections.

Rumi:

I choose to love you in silence
For in silence I find no rejection

I choose to love you in loneliness
For in loneliness no one owns you but me

I choose to adore you from a distance
For distance will shield me from pain

I choose to kiss you in the wind
For the wind is gentler than my lips

I choose to hold you in my dreams
For in my dreams, you have no end

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Spiritual Autobiography


      How does one begin an autobiography about spirituality?  What I think of writing is a “religion” autobiography, but is that really spirituality? My search for spirituality continues, so the autobiography is quite incomplete.   In many ways, my spirituality does in fact begin with my early religious experiences.
           My family was one steeped in fundamentalist christianity and white supremacy, which in my mind still go hand in hand.  Not the same white privilege that all white people enjoy through no accomplishment of their own, but the inherent belief that white people are supreme.  Superior to all others and possess the manifest destiny to not only conquer the world, but to save it as well.
           The church I was born into and attended until beyond my marriage was called the Church of the Nazarene.  So named I suppose after Christ of Nazareth, the original Nazarene.  The church was one of legalism, based completely on performance.  The belief system was one founded on “original sin.”  Everyone was born wicked, wrong, and sinful and in order to gain redemption, Jesus Christ was the way, the truth, and the life.  No one came to God other than through Christ.  Salvation was full and free, but must be asked for and once found could also be lost.
           Salvation was not guaranteed and if you sinned, than you must ask again for salvation.  At some point (a point I never reached) one could arrive at “sanctification.”  To my understanding, this kind of meant the second level of salvation; that once this has occurred, the person no longer sinned.  (I may have this understanding wrong.  By the time I reached the age that this was part of my thinking, I had begun to think the entire process was a crock of shit.)  My church believed in baptism has an outward sign that one had died and been reborn through the resurrected Christ.
           From a very early age I attempted to “be” a good girl.  To behave accordingly and not sin.  For a female, this behavior included submission to my parents, the church elders, and any other adult simply because they were an adult. Age automatically made them wiser. My father was the church treasurer and sat on the board, my mother was the pastor’s secretary and cleaned the church on Saturdays.  We attended church twice on Sundays and again for mid-week prayer meeting on Wednesdays.  Annually there was a week-long revival, which we attended nightly.  What exactly we were being revived from is still unclear.
           The sermons were geared toward making people feel like failures.  Feeling as if you were not good enough.  That just being you with all your human foibles was somehow wrong.  Every Sunday the pastor led an alter call for anyone who wanted to get saved.  Without fail, the song we sang was “Just As I Am.”  “Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me.”  I can still hear the haunting tune in my head.   Several times as a child and young adult, I was “saved.”  It never stuck.  I lived my entire life as a backslidden christian. 
           After several failed attempts at redemption, being voted out of church membership for having divorced, and re-thinking a lot of teaching, I left the church with a pretty big chip on my shoulder and a sizeable contempt for God.  Many times throughout my life I have lain awake in the dark and screamed out to god for proof of his existence.  (In my world, God and all related to him were white males.)  Equally as many times I have cried out in the dark about how much I hated god.  Actually said “Fuck You” and told him to stay away.  Even more times I’ve blamed myself fully for the wrong turns my life has taken for having said those words. Deep in my soul, it is hard to let go of the belief that I told God to fuck off one too many times and he has truly turned his back on me, rejecting me beyond hearing my cries for help or the need for proof of his existence.
           Do I actually believe this?  Honestly, I don’t know.  I would like to say I don’t, but sitting here now writing these words, I feel sadness in my soul.  Some belief, some regret, some thing still lingers there. I want to know a connection with a source of peace and power greater than myself or something I can name. I want to trust in something that I cannot see – have faith.  Trusting in things I can see, feel, and smell is difficult for me.  Trusting in humans who give me their word is something I struggle with on a daily basis. How then do I trust in something that is not tangible? 
           The search continues for the ability to trust something outside myself, and at times to even trust myself.  Early teachings haunt me, leading me to question myself and my ability to reason. Fear enters my being at the mention of “women’s religion.”  This means wikka to mean, which means an attachment to satan.  Whether or not this is true, I have no idea. I’m afraid to explore.
           Hell has a hold on me.  I fear eternal damnation more than I fear that there may be no god.  Like almost all things christian, this is not rational.  Intellectually I know that, but emotionally I cannot escape the feelings of fear.  Every once in a while the thought that today may be the day of the rapture and I’m going to be left behind, enters my head and I wonder what the world will be.  All these earthquakes happening recently are signs of the end times.  And then, I think that’s why George Bush is president again because christians have an irrational fear based on irrational beliefs and elected an irrational president to carry out an irrational system based on manifest destiny.  And we wind up back at white supremacy where this all started.  A vicious circle of fear and irrationality that keeps my mind anything from quiet, my spirit far from content, and my intellect saying fuck you to the entire system of belief outside myself.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Goodbye Has Never Been My Strong Suit

I rarely say goodbye...I've rarely been in a position to say goodbye...My belief system allows for second, third, fourth...as many as needed...chances to get things right.  A great deal of my life has been dedicated to people (including myself) who have made wrong turns, countless mistakes and repeated bad choices.  Much of my income has been earned helping those people embrace who they are and not beat themselves up for what they did, or didn't, do and to subsequently choose a new path, or perhaps just a less harmful path.  Goodbye and endings have never been my strong suit.

Talking, listening, showing, forgiving, waiting, working, trying new strategies, calling for help, seeking advice...basically staying in some sort of action has always been the better choice.  One thing I rarely do, is give up.  Endings are not my strong suit.

My sister said goodbye...I said goodbye to my sister.  Perhaps people think it strange that it's been more than 2 years and there is still a huge, hollow, aloneness that follows me.  I've tried, worked, strategized, called for help, sought advice, taken all the actions that I know in order to navigate this new territory.  Saying goodbye has never been my strong suit.

The past eight months have been spent learning the process of letting go.  I sought advice.  I talked. I cried. I waited.  I questioned.  I waited some more.  I looked for new paths.  I attempted to embrace everyone involved with compassion and understanding.

My belief system does not allow for holding grudges.  Which adds to my inability to say goodbye...there's always a chance.  There's always a chance that things will improve.  There's always a possibility that something will change.  My belief system looks for the good in what's happening rather than in what's wrong.  I look for the lesson rather than focus on blaming someone else for how I feel or behave.  I thank the Universe for sending the person to teach me what I need to know and learn.

One of the reasons my sister died was her inability to say goodbye...to put an end to things that were killing her.  Maybe holding on at her own expense was her stubborn pride in thinking she was strong enough to overcome, strong enough to manage, strong enough to not let that which was killing her...kill her.  Maybe learning to let go and say goodbye is something she and I both have not been good at.

Goodbye has never been my strong suit....Killing myself to hold on isn't a good idea either.


Monday, March 20, 2017

There Are No Words

I’ve never known a feeling so full or a place so perfect.  I want to write, but it’s indescribable.  Wordless.  There are not adequate words to describe what happens when his lips touch mine, when his hands touch my skin…when he’s inside me. No one does anything to earn this feeling…nor does anyone do anything to conjure it up.  It just happens. Unexpectedly and without effort.

It starts the moment I open the door and my heart stops.  For just the briefest of seconds, the world stands still.  It sounds so cliché…a 1950’s movie in black and white.  Then, my heart beats, my eyes smile and he is in my space.  It doesn’t matter where that space is when he’s in it…a table, a car, a couch, a lake, a tent, a rock…as long as he’s in my space.

Shared time and space.  Doesn’t cost a thing and is worth more than any treasure.

I want to find words to  write what it feels like to sleep with him…but there are no words. It is the most peaceful, restful, perfect sleep.  The feeling of my head on his chest, or in his neck, feeling his warmth, his heart beat, his gentle snore...the length of his body completely against mine, his arm wrapped around me, his hand resting on my waist…there is no safer place, no more perfect place.  I sleep soundly and instantly.  It is perfection…free from any flaws and defects.  Whatever else may be right or wrong in our lives, this moment, right here, wrapped up with him is pure perfection.

His  hands are the stabilizing force for my shattered heart.  His mouth quenches an unspoken hunger for connection.  His body is a comforter for my fear.  Where he is, is where I want to be.  I crave him in a way that is extreme.  Thoughts of him consume me in my sleep and distract me in my days.  He is my first thought every morning and my last thought every night.

There are no words to convey how much space he takes up in my head and my heart.  I never thought this was real…that there was one person who could change everything I ever thought about love.  It is at once completely satisfying while creating an unquenchable desire. A feeling so big there are no words to define it.










Tuesday, December 20, 2016

If We Knew It Was The Last Time

I've been thinking a great deal about endings...the end of the year...the end of a book...the end of a life...the end of a relationship...endings.  

If we knew this was the end, would we do things differently?  If I knew this would be the last thing I ever wrote, would I write something different?  If I knew this conversation would be the last conversation with you, would I say something else? If I knew this was the last kiss, would I kiss you differently?  If I knew this was the last time I was ever going to have sex with you, would I do something else....more of something... less? If this was the last book I could ever read, would I still choose to read this book?  

They say endings are just new beginnings, but sometimes endings are just endings.  Sometimes there is no new beginning, no do over, no chance to speak again, read again, kiss again or be naked with a person again.  

So, if you knew, if I knew, this was the last word, is this what I would write?  If this is the last conversation, is this the one I want to have?  If that was the last kiss, was it a good one?  

Yes...this is what I would write.  No, that conversation probably wasn't the one I would have chosen to have if I knew it was the last one.  Yes, that kiss was amazing and even though I didn't know it was the last one, it was a good one.  No, if I had known that was the last time I'd be naked with that person, I would have made it more special.  A better place...a better atmosphere...a better ending.  

Yet, I know that when I speak to people I care about, they know for sure I care about them.  My family is sure I love them.  My friends are sure I value them.  I left my job today in good spirits and they know I enjoy it.  That last kiss...it was good.  That last naked time...as perfect as every time before.  Late at night, when the world is quiet, I know my kids are confident that I love them.  Late at night, when the world is not so quiet and thoughts scatter, my friends know they can call and together we will gather those scattered thoughts.  Late at night, when sleep won't come, and life feels anything but perfect, there will be memories of perfection and there can be confidence that one person out there in the world thinks that you are exactly perfect.  

There has to be endings.  But if we take the time to have true conversations, write the right words, kiss with our whole self, tell the people in our lives how much we love them, and show appreciation for perfection, those endings can be good rather than bad, peaceful rather than full of loss. 

I believe it's better to say all the mushy, ridiculous, goofy, girly, sentimental, over the top things rather than reach an ending and not have said them.  So, if these were the last words I ever wrote, then know that I love my family, chose the book, kissed with my whole soul and experienced perfection.  

This is an ending.  But just of this...it's not the end of everything.  








Sunday, December 4, 2016

Broken

In 7th grade, by my calculations somewhere around 40 years ago, we took a field trip to the state capital in Sacramento.  Even then, I loved old things.  I bought a super old, ceramic medicine dispenser and a Vaseline container from an antique shop.  At age 18 when I got married, those items, an old thermometer and usually a candle have sat on the back of the toilet everywhere I've lived...which has been a lot of places!  I've raised five kids, had rambunctious boys in my house, had tons of people use the bathroom and that little antique ceramic medicine dispenser has been unscathed...until I lived with people who didn't respect me, value my things, or understand the meaning of memories in symbols.

Someone in that house broke it.  And left it.  On the ground.  Next to the toilet.  And never had the decency to say "Hey, Steph, I broke your thing on accident."  I found it..and I cried.  I picked up the pieces that could be put back together.  When I left, I brought the broken pieces with me.  In this apartment, the broken pieces have sat on the back of the toilet...with a candle, the Vaseline container, the old thermometer.  Today, for some reason, I decided to super glue it back together.  There are some chips missing, there is a huge crack, but it's as whole as it's ever going to be.

Two years ago today, a decision was made to turn off my sister's life support.  By far, the hardest, worst, most painful decision I've ever made in my life.  I broke that day.  And for two years I've been broken in pieces.  I may look like I'm not broken, but I am.  I may sit in the place I'm supposed to sit, where I've always been, but I'm broken.

What is the super glue that puts me back together?  There's a huge crack where my sister used to be.  There are chips gone that will forever be missing.  But what's the glue that puts the pieces of me back together?

Is this as whole as I'm ever going to be?